cover image The Old Ladies Who Liked Cats

The Old Ladies Who Liked Cats

Carol Greene. HarperCollins Publishers, $15 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-06-022104-1

In this inspired variation on a story first told by Charles Darwin, Greene ( The Jenny Summer ; Robin Hill ) reveals a smoothly operating ecological chain. The sailors who protect a small island from invaders stay strong by drinking the milk produced by the cows, whose nourishment depends in turn on bees that pollinate the clover, honeycombs that support the bees, and cats that protect the honeycombs from field mice. The kingpens of this ecosystem are the old ladies who let the cats outdoors at night so that they can do their part. When the mayor decrees that all cats must remain inside, the chain is broken, and the sailors become too weak to defend their homeland. All is set right in the end by the sagacious ladies, ``who knew how things work together.'' Whether or not they absorb the moral of Greene's tale, youngsters will be captivated by her gently rolling text. Filled with an exquisite array of blues and greens, Krupinsky's ( Lost in the Fog ) marvelously expressive characters depict a bygone era with extraordinary charm and humor. Ages 5-8. ( Mar. )